By: Addison Wylie
Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s film is a foreign drama that isn’t subtitled, translated, or dubbed. Every character communicates in sign language as movie goers are given the broad strokes of a crime-laden story. However, Slaboshpitsky’s screenplay is unrelenting, and leaves little to the imagination when it comes to displaying desperate and heartless activity.
For the first ten minutes, The Tribe is an unforgettable, sensory depraved experience. One of the first scenes features a celebration amongst a relatively big crowd. Witnessing this sort of hoopla in silence with the odd sound effect of someone scuffing their shoes is unreal. It’s a one-of-a-kind scene that truly made me better appreciate the sense of sound.
I should also mention that The Tribe’s shot list consists of uninterrupted shots. According to the Internet Movie Database, Miroslav Slaboshpitsky used 34 shots. They are magnificently choreographed, perfectly timed, and they each tell a story that could fill its own short film. The cinematography paired with the filmmaker’s determination to make a film told through sign language is overwhelming and impressive. So, imagine my disappointment when all other details started landing with a flop.
After those first few scenes, The Tribe struggles to find good pacing and a compelling arching story. We follow a newcomer arriving to a dreary boarding school, and quickly becomes acquainted with the wrong crowd – a group of menacing, violent delinquents with some who sell their bodies come nightfall. It’s not exactly the most uplifting portrayal of youth, but it is quite effective with throwing the viewing into an inescapable world.
But, again, the intimidating behaviour has enough oomph to pull the correct emotion out of the audience, but its not enough to sustain a two-hour feature. Especially one devoid of sound. The overextension of silence makes our mind wander whenever The Tribe starts to drag or whenever we feel a lapse in characterization.
Either Miroslav Slaboshpitsky needed to make a long movie with a strong hero, or one with high energy that respectfully involves depressing people. The Tribe – while earning its fair share of kudos – falls somewhere in the middle. It’s a long, lifeless movie involving depressing people.